Primary care practices don’t need to look far to find new patients. Two surveys found that 20 percent of consumers are willing to jump to a video-enabled provider. Here’s why the convenience of telehealth is driving a consumer trend in primary and chronic care.
To set the stage, a friend talks about technically-backwards medical offices. None of these supposedly “state of the art” practices were willing to make an online appointment, send lab results by email, or text appointment reminders.
Not surprisingly, our colleague quietly “fired” his providers and switched to tech-enabled practices. It illustrates that many medical offices remain blind and digitally disconnected. And some patients don’t return. For our friend, and others like him, being able to communicate with the practice is a major consideration. Email, text and online connection options are a major convenience.
Patients ready to “ditch and switch” for telehealth...
Convenience is the new consumer currency. Patients are not stuck in the digital dark ages. They expect their doctors to interact via everyday technology. A Jackson Healthcare survey finds 50 million Americans are “ready to ditch their primary care doctor” and switch to a PCP offering tele-visits.
Similar findings are reported in the 2017 American Well Telehealth Index. Some “20 percent of consumers are willing to switch to a PCP that offers telemedicine.” Other findings say 65 percent of respondents “are interested in seeing their PCP over video. Parents with children under 18 are even more likely to say they're interested [at] 74 percent.” (Disclosure: American Well is a telehealth company; Harris Poll conducted the survey; the 2017 consumer survey report is available here.)
Enabling technology is increasingly available to consumers. Consequently, consumer interest continues to grow for PCP, chronic and post-discharge care. The survey also reports:
- Willingness to switch to a doctor with telehealth is highest among parents of children under age 18, and 35-44 year-olds
- 60 percent of consumers would see a doctor online for help managing a chronic condition
- 67 percent of adults ages 45-64 would see a doctor online for help managing a chronic condition
- 79 percent of consumers currently caring for an ill or aging relative say a multi-channel video telehealth service would be helpful
Admittedly, American Well has a stake in this industry. The appeal of telemedicine and the popularity of online customer convenience is growing. Consumers expect it, and technology enables it. As a result, medical practices are now beginning to discover applications that provide for reimbursement, profitability and cost savings.